Here is the second part of my big blog, featuring the big winners. Please read the first part first. Enjoy!
Before that though, I have to tell you about some games that nearly made it into the Top 12. Call of Duty Black Ops is possibly the best modern CoD up to date, with a great campaign and finally a captivating story, but its being so similar to the previous titles prevented it from getting its place.
Singularity almost made it up as well, being a great shooter with memorable moments & gameplay mechanics, though it's a much too obvious & by the book (in the negative point of view), a Bioshock rip-off, from miles away.
Super Meat Boy could have also gotten a place up here had there not been some bugs which prevented me from getting over the Hell levels.
Mafia II probably would have deserved a Top 12 place, a Top 10 even, but as my favourite game of all time remains Mafia, the sequel was too much of a disappointment to really go up. It's a great game, but for me, it wasn't enough.
Grand Theft Auto IV Episodes From Liberty City & Dragon Age Origins Awakening are indeed great standalones, but they are based too much on their previous originals to really count as new games ,& to be featured here. While EFLC is one of the best mission packs I've played, Awakening is also a great experience; it feels a bit rushed, but that's just because DAO was too epic. A 15 hour expansion is not something you stumble too often upon these days.
Other games that nearly made it are Splinter Cell Conviction, a really solid sequel that succesfully took a different approach to the series; FIFA 11, which is finally a new , playable & fully enjoyable game for the PC, and, despite what critics say, Star Wars The Force Unleashed II, for being a relaxing, very cinematic experience with epic cutscenes. And now, the big 12 of 2010:
Top 12 Games of the Year 2010:
This game really had to make it into the tops. Despite not liking arcade racers too much, this was one game that really impressed me, It is not only fun to play, but also extremely immersive & atmospheric, not to mention the level of madness this game has to offer, rather than a fulminating complexity. Tracks with charter planes, boats, plenty of exlosions, mad races & powerups make Split/Second my number 1 racing game of the year.
#11 PRINCE OF PERSIA THE FORGOTTEN SANDS
After an interesting & different experience with the 2008 spin-off, the original Prince returns in an action packed game which is a combination between the latter & Sands of Time. Great, epic scale battles combined with very good platforming seqeunces make a real jewel, which, polished with a few nice cutscenes & good laughs, stands up as one of the year's best games.
#10 BIOSHOCK 2
Bioshock is easily & without doubt one of the best game in videogame history. I guess Bioshock 2 relied too much on that, delivering a game whose concept has barely changed. The highly artistic visuals and well dozed, polished & haunting visuals are better than ever, BUT the game is not nearly as memorable as the first one. It's clear that the story tries too hard, though it even pulls it off every now & agains, while two new gameplay elements don't really make a sequel. Shame, but it's still one of the best games of 2010. Too bad they didn't call it Sea of Dreams after all...
#9 Alpha Protocol
You know, Alpha Protocol is one of those strange games. Riddled with bugs, apparently with nothing really memorable; passable unoriginal elements, very short plot, a lot of potential not at all exploited. And even worse, you had great expectations from it. Pretty disappointing at first run, in June, I rated it as harsh as I could & let it rot. Except that it didn't rot...it actually blossomed. Surprisingly, 6 months after I completed it, I see Alpha Protocol in a positive light, full of funny jokes, crazy puzzles I used to master, silly lil' shootouts & a story that really made me feel like James Bond meets Jack Bauer meets Jason Bourne. And then, of course, there's Steven Heck! He alone could make this game a total success!
#8 Battlefield Bad Company 2
I've always, and I tell you, always prefered singleplayer to multiplayer. I sooo much wanted A Battlefield with a real campaign. Well DiCE heard my plea, but released Battlefield Bad Company, back in 2008, only for consoles. No play for me. But this year, they decided to release the sequel for the PC as well. Well, hell yeah! BBC 2 is a superb military shooter; a great action-packed campaign which feels fresh and not ripped-off, as the CoD campaigns seem to be. Despite the awesome feeling & great missions, it gives you the much needed exploration possibility & alternative routes to move & to complete your objectives, reminding of Crysis rather than CoD. Not as complex, sandboxy &, therefore, not as enjoyable as Crysis Warhead, but a superb game nontheless.
#7 Monkey Island 2-LeChuck's Revenge Special Edition
What more can I say about a Monkey Island game. A **** '90s game brought back to life with improved, up-to-date visuals & perfect voice acting. A blessing for nostalgics or younger fans alike. You'll participate in Spitting contests, you'll battle impossible odds, you'll rob graves, solve riddles through songs & finally, confront the evil Pirate LeChuck once again. What more can you ask for, huh? Adventure of the year, sold! Thanks Lucas! Look behind you, a three-headed monkey!
#6 Starcraft 2
Such a long anticipated game is sure to make some waves when it's released. Especially if released in midsummer, as Starcraft II was. I can't say much because I hadn't played much of Starcraft 1 when i took up the sequel. All I could say was that the game was not much of an innovation, not at all actually. Mostly nothing in the gameplay changed. The story is pretty drama-queen like & predictible. But the level design is so good, the missions are so great,varied & action packed & the intermezzos are so full of flavour that it really, really doesn't matter. Possiblr THE most polished game in years to come, Starcraft II is one hell of an experience you should under no circumstances miss.
#5 Fallout New Vegas
First things first, I hated Fallout 3, I still do and I think it's practically a piece of c**p. Bethesda really screwed up the franchise with that title. Therefore, I had almost no expectations from New Vegas, even though I knew it was in the masterful hands of Obsidian, creators of great plots & possibly the greatest characters in vdeo game history. The result was a great, Obsidian-like one: an extremely polished & well worked game, gameplay improved in every aspect & oriented to a more hardcore mass, & the plot-man, purely genuine! ****A work! Lots of bugs, but nothing a few patches couldn't fix. Obsidian took Fallout back to the tops, turning a wreck concept into a wonderful, immersive & unforgettable game, clearly one of the best games of the year. Maybe the cazadors got it down a place, maybe the very very difficult decisions took it down another step (though both are great features, really), but Fallout New Vegas deserves all the praise it can get. F**k you, Bethesda! Hands down Obsidian!
#4 Just Cause 2
A real of revivals & improvements, this is. First it was Battlefield Bad Company 2, then Fallout New Vegas, now this. I absolutely hated the original Just Cause. Even with my little respect of some of elements of that game, the extreme annoyances I got with it can hardly be compared to anything else of this kind I've ever experienced. But what Just Cause did wrong, Just Cause 2 does it right, & in a lot of places, even better than right. Most importantly, you needn't take it seriously; JC2 doesn't want that. It just wants you to have fun. Loads of it. And I don't think I've ever had as much fun in a game as I did in Just Cause 2. Pinning people to accelerating cars, grappling cars or statues to a helicopter or getting a vehicle off-route using a grapple hook & a onpassing, innocent airplane. You name it, & you'll do it. Equalling 100 times the craziest things you see in the most action packed films, Just Cause 2 has everything you need. Welcome to the jungle!
#3 Metro 2033
This game, along the likes of Cryostasis or Call of Cthulhu Dark Corners of the Earth, will always remain as a gem in video game history. A gem which not everybody will be able to taste, but a gem nevertheless. Metro 2033 is a haunting & touching experience, a story about man at the end of the world, a world he destroyed. It is a tale about human nature, instinct, sacrifice & survival. Yes, it is a very solid survival shooter, both in aspects of gameplay/mechanics & in the audio/visual ones. A very, very atmospheric game that will move you. Even if it's the winged monster, the horror-filled tunnels, the little kid , the ghosts or the frozen tear. It's one of the best game s I've had the pleasure to play. As a further reccomandation, play it in Russian, with english subtitles. It's twice as good this way.
#2 Mass Effect 2
Once again, Mass Effect narrowly fails to get my no 1 Game of the Year award. Back when I played it I thought it would win no problem, hands down. Looking at the competition, I still thought it would win without many problems, but the comeptition came out of nowhere & blasted in second. Mass Effect 2 is a simply outstanding game. Just like that. It's just like watching a good cliffhanging movie: you'll always be on the edge od your seat, you'll never get bored. I couldn't name you a Sci-Fi creation, be it book, film or game, better tham this one. It is absolutely perfect in every aspect, therefore I will not get into details. Except for two things. One is related to the over-simplification of the RPG mechanics & the pleasure of getting XP out of kills, which was brutally taken away. The second relates to the unexplicable absence of the Mako & the suspicious resource harvesting system. Hopefully they'll be solved in Mass Effect 3, which is due next year & will hopefully, finally get a much deserved title, the Game of the Year title. Which in 2010 goes to...
GAME OF THE YEAR 2010:
#1 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-Call of Pripyat
Yep, it all comes down to this. And once again, in the second consecutive year, a Russian game takes my Game of the Year title. Even I don't know how come I finally decided upon STALKER winning the big prize. It was a fierce battle between it, Mass Effect 2 & Amnesia The Dark Descent. And, as you can see, STALKER won.
What I can tell you, cause I won't tell you much, is that Call of Pripyat is the sum of everything in the previous STALKER games. Minus the actual storyline and cutscenes, but in the end, it didn't matter much. Shadow of Chernobyl is and will be one of my favourite games of all time, & what disappointed me in Clear Sky was not only the lack of substantial improvements or really memorable moments, but the step backward which, in my opinion, the series took. Call of Prypiat is here to fix it, though. Despite a slow, unimpressive end which made me delay my playthrough, the game grows on you, and you'll easily be sucked in after a few hours, given that you're a series fan. The lack of the Zone feedback from Shadow of Chernobyl may seem as a bad decision at first, but it's actually a good one; it makes you feel more like a stalker, identifying better with the reality that the Zone is. A really immersive world which, for the first time in the series, made me explore every corner of it, resulting in 30+ hours of gameplay. Impressive.
Just as Cryostasis did it last year, Call of Prypiat excels in art. All the environments are purely works of art. I cannot begin to tell you how fantastic the world looks. Not to mention the audio part or the atmosphere-simply perfect.
The other huge strenght of this game is also shared with Cryostasis: it's a PC exclusive. This means hardcore, a game that can't really be played with one hand while eating cereal & watching a football match, as most console games are. And it's not only hard & unforgiving, but the gunfights are simply perfectly done. It's so realistic, that under the aspect of actual "shooting", Call of Pripyat is the best shooter in videogaming history. And if that's not deservable of a GOTY title, I don't know what is!
SPECIAL GAME OF THE YEAR 2010 AWARD:
AMNESIA-THE DARK DESCENT
I simply couldn't let Amnesia aside. I couldn't award it THE prize, as it's more of a psychological experiment than a game. I also couldn't rank it less than first, because it has been one of the best experiences in my life, and on top of that, it's been developed by 6 people. So yeah. This game is the scariest game I have ever played; 90% of the time I was scared s***less, mostly just standing in one place while trying to calm down; 5% i was trying to solve a puzzle while being scared s***less & the other 5% i was running away. Yep, I almost pissed my pants while playing this game. There's art, there's beautiful music, the most intense atmosphere you can imagine, & a haunting, complex story to it. From the creators of the more than excellent Penumbra series. Once again, grade A work, Frictional Games. Looking forward to your upcoming horror game- whatever it is, it's gonna be another masterpiece!